Thursday, 18 November 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
274. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth when excavations will be carried out at the burial site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam; the reason for the delay in commencing same; if An Garda Síochána will be involved in the supervision of the excavation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56731/21]
The Government is committed to advancing the legislation that is required to support intervention at the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam.
The General Scheme of a Certain Institutional Burials (Authorised Interventions) Bill was developed to provide the required legal basis for exhumation, identification and dignified reburial of the infants at the Tuam site and other locations should similar circumstances come to light. The Bill, which covers a range of complex issues, was published in December 2019. It was due to commence pre-legislative scrutiny in early 2020 but this was affected by the general election and the subsequent formation of a new Government and establishment of new Oireachtas committees.
I referred the General Scheme afresh to the Oireachtas for pre-legislative scrutiny in January 2021. The Committee published its report on the legislation in July. The report makes a number of recommendations in relation to the Bill. In light of these recommendations, and engagements I have had with families in Tuam, the Department is reviewing the legislation to take account of issues raised by the Committee, survivors, and family members. I hope to publish the Bill and bring it through the Houses of the Oireachtas as quickly as possible to allow excavation of the site in 2022.
An Garda Síochána does not have a supervisory role concerning the excavation of a site in the context of the Bill; however, it is outlined that, where the remains show evidence of violent or unnatural death, the Director overseeing the intervention at the site will have to immediately inform them, as well as the coroner within whose district the remains were recovered. An Garda Síochána may request the Director to suspend work relating to the excavation on the grounds that a criminal investigation relating to a person or persons buried at the site can be conducted. The Director will be required to comply with the request and assist the investigation by An Garda Síochána.